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Mini Dragon Group (ages 6-7)

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Eric Sysoev
Eric Sysoev

High Art



Sydney (or simply "Syd"), age 24, is a woman who has her whole life mapped out in front of her. Living with longtime boyfriend James, and working her way up at the respected high-art photography magazine Frame, Syd has desires and frustrations that seem typical and manageable. But when a crack in her ceiling springs a leak and Syd finds herself knocking on the door of her upstairs neighbor, a chance meeting suddenly takes her on a new path.




High Art



In a society, high culture is the subculture that encompasses the cultural objects of aesthetic value, which a society collectively esteem as being exemplary works of art,[1] and the intellectual works of literature and music, history and philosophy, which a society consider representative of their culture.[2]


In the Western and some East Asian traditions, art that demonstrates the imagination of the artist is accorded the status of high art. In the West this tradition began in Ancient Greece, was reinforced in the Renaissance, and by Romanticism, which eliminated the hierarchy of genres within the fine arts, which was established in the Renaissance. In China there was a distinction between the literati painting by the scholar-officials and the work produced by common artists, working in largely different styles, or the decorative arts such as Chinese porcelain, which were produced by unknown craftsmen working in large factories. In both China and the West the distinction was especially clear in landscape painting, where for centuries imaginary views, produced from the imagination of the artist, were considered superior works.


In socially-stratified Europe and the Americas, a first-hand immersion to the high culture of the West, the Grand Tour of Europe, was a rite of passage that complemented and completed the book education of a gentleman, from the nobility, the aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie, with a worldly perspective of society and civilisation. The post-university tour of the cultural centres of Europe was a social-class benefit of the cultural capital transmitted through the high-status institutions (schools, academies, universities) meant to produce the ideal gentleman of that society.


The European concept of high culture included cultivation of refined etiquette and manners; the education of taste in the fine arts such as sculpture and painting; an appreciation of classical music and opera in its diverse history and myriad forms; knowledge of the humane letters (literae humaniores) represented by the best Greek and Latin authors, and more broadly of the liberal arts traditions (e.g. philosophy, history, drama, rhetoric, and poetry) of Western civilisation, as well as a general acquaintance with important concepts in theology, science, and political thought.


Much of high culture consists of the appreciation of what is sometimes called "high art". This term is rather broader than Arnold's definition and besides literature includes music, visual arts (especially painting), and traditional forms of the performing arts (including some cinema). The decorative arts would not generally be considered high art.[11]


The cultural products most often regarded as forming part of high culture are most likely to have been produced during periods of high civilization, for which a large, sophisticated, and wealthy urban-based society provides a coherent and conscious aesthetic framework, and a large-scale milieu of training, and, for the visual arts, sourcing materials and financing work. Such an environment enables artists, as near as possible, to realize their creative potential with as few as possible practical and technical constraints, though many more could be found on the cultural and economic side. Although the Western concept of high culture naturally concentrates on the Greco-Roman tradition, and its resumption from the Renaissance onwards, such conditions existed in other places at other times.


The term has always been susceptible to attack for elitism, and, in response, many proponents of the concept devoted great efforts to promoting high culture among a wider public than the highly educated bourgeoisie whose natural territory it was supposed to be. There was a drive, beginning in the 19th century, to open museums and concert halls to give the general public access to high culture. Figures such as John Ruskin and Lord Reith of the BBC in Britain, Leon Trotsky and others in Communist Russia, and many others in America and throughout the western world have worked to widen the appeal of elements of high culture such as classical music, art by old masters and the literary classics.


With the widening of access to university education, the effort spread there, and all aspects of high culture became the objects of academic study, which with the exception of the classics had not often been the case until the late 19th century. University liberal arts courses still play an important role in the promotion of the concept of high culture, though often now avoiding the term itself.


Especially in Europe, governments have been prepared to subsidize high culture through the funding of museums, opera and ballet companies, orchestras, cinema, public broadcasting stations such as BBC Radio 3, ARTE, and in other ways. Organizations such as the Arts Council of Great Britain, and in most European countries, whole ministries administer these programs. This includes the subsidy of new works by composers, writers and artists. There are also many private philanthropic sources of funding, which are especially important in the US, where the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting also funds broadcasting. These may be seen as part of the broader concept of official culture, although often a mass audience is not the intended market.


The relations between high culture and mass culture are concerns of cultural studies, media studies, critical theory, sociology, Postmodernism and Marxist philosophy. In the essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1936), Walter Benjamin explored the relations of value of the arts (high and mass) when subjected to industrial reproduction. The critical theoreticians Theodor W. Adorno and Antonio Gramsci interpreted the high-art and mass-art cultural relations as an instrument of social control, with which the ruling class maintain their cultural hegemony upon society.[20]


For the Orientalist Ernest Renan and for the rationalist philosopher Ernest Gellner, high culture was conceptually integral to the politics and ideology of nationalism, as a requisite part of a healthy national identity. Gellner expanded the conceptual scope of the phrase in Nations and Nationalism (1983) stating that high art is "a literate, codified culture, which permits context-free communication" among cultures.


In Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1979), the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu proposed that æsthetic taste (cultural judgement) is in large part derived from social class. Social class establishes the definitions of high art, e.g. in social etiquette, gastronomy, oenology, military service. In such activities of aesthetic judgement, the ruling-class person uses social codes unknown to middle-class and lower-class persons in the pursuit and practice of activities of taste.[citation needed]


Serrano is a first-generation Mexican American originally from Los Angeles and now based in Portland. Inspired by the intersection of her dual cultural identities, she is best known for using brightly-colored cardboard and paper to highlight elements of Latinx culture.


Portfolio Scholars are selected by the faculty based on the strength of their portfolio, academic potential, personal character, and leadership potential. Portfolio Scholarships are $5,000 and renewed annually provided the recipient maintains a 3.0 or higher GPA.


The All High Art Exhibition is a juried exhibition open to all high school juniors and seniors enrolled in secondary programs throughout the region. Applicants have the opportunity to exhibit their work in our campus gallery, and $26,000 of annually renewable scholarships will be awarded across nine categories.


"High Art" is masterful in the little details. It knows how these people might talk, how they might respond. It knows that Lucy, Greta and the almost otherworldly Arnie might use heroin and then play Scrabble. It is so boring, being high in an empty life. The movie knows how career ambition and office politics can work together to motivate Syd: She wants Lucy to get the job because she's falling for Lucy, but also because she knows Lucy is her ticket to a promotion at the magazine.


The argument is fair, as far as it goes. Much like how, in a capitalist society, the poor can become rich and the rich can become poor, holding a hard and fast line between socio-economic and cultural realms is hardly a productive way of looking at the arts. The subjectivity of aesthetic opinion makes such an ossified, almost Platonic, separation between high and low art workably untenable.


Enter The Beatles. During the seminar, I showed students a graphic from the internet that placed various names and works of art on a hierarchical scale using a skyscraper tapering upward as a visual aid. For example, Howard Stern and soap operas were on the wider low art ground floors; ballet and Hamlet were in the narrow high art top floors. I asked students to name a contemporary musical or visual artist that they thought could or would be considered high art. Many answers ensued, but all thought that The Beatles should be considered high art.


Ultimately, though, The Beatles are just the tip of the iceberg. The Beatles are a problem because they open the door for other non-traditional but influential artists and works to be thought of as high art. Students in my seminar pointed to Pink Floyd, Banksy, Les Misérables, The Godfather, Celine Dion, and others as high art contenders as well. Could these artistic entities, like the dung beetles (or scarabs, pun intended) of Ancient Egyptian symbolism, emerge out of the lower earth of commercial success and be associated with the heightened realm of the socially sacred? Perhaps we will know more in fifty years. 041b061a72


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